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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Wing and a Prayer

It's been two months since I rejoined Weight Watchers. And though I've managed to lose 13 pounds, during that same period of time, I've written almost nothing at all. I've determined that the reason I haven't been blogging is because I'm focusing on losing weight. Isn't that weird? It's like I can't do two "creative" things at once. I channel all my energy into one thing at a time, and then I am incapable of switching gears and focusing on something else. So, because I'm blogging today, that means I'll probably gain five pounds today.

I would not have been able to lose any weight without exercise. The other day, after feeling guilt about eating two portions of a fattening dinner, I went for a walk, and the next morning rather than being up a couple pounds, was actually down a half to a new low.

I often read the testimonials of people on the WW website who have lost significant amounts of weight; in at least one case, a woman lost half her bodyweight. Each one of these testimonials makes me cry. How hard these men and women have worked! And, in every single case, these people had made fitness a key component of their daily lives. They conquered lifelong aversions to exercise. Many of them now compete in triathalons and marathons.

Since I got back to Weight Watchers, I have been walking a lot. With summer here, and four kids home during the day, I need to make an extra concerted effort to get outside. A few minutes walk from my house is a 1/4 mile running track, part of the grounds of South Anchorage High School. I can take the kids up there, and they can fool around while I walk. It's an ideal place to walk.

I frequently recall a 15-year-old conversation with my aunt, during which she said that the best way to start running is to gradually build up to it. A few steps of walking, then a few steps of running, then a few steps of walking, and back to a few steps of running. Back and forth, back and forth, until your body builds stamina. It takes time and patience and perseverence - things I've avoided in a life of immediate gratification.

The other night I was walking Seamus up at the high school. I was walking as briskly as I could, but I still didn't feel like I was going fast enough. So, I tried to run. We made one full circuit around the track before I slowed to a walk again. Then, after half a lap of walking, Seamus and I tried running again. This time it was only half a lap. We walked another lap before running another half.

I was glad no one else was at the track, because I would have been embarrassed. I see runners up there all the time who can go around and around and around without becoming uncoordinated with fatigue. I would love to be one of those people. At present, I am far from gazelle-like, and much more likely to trip and tumble face-first onto the track than to inspire the admiration of passersby. In my blue jeans, five-year old Costco athletic shoes, and supportless bra, I don't need an audience. Nevertheless, my experiment was a success; it felt great to run, to push; it felt great to feel great.

A memory of my uncle, who would run like five miles everyday at lunchtime during the summer I lived with he and my aunt in Kalamazoo, Michigan: after his daily five mile run, he would come in for lunch. What would he eat? A carrot. A single, stinking carrot. And then he would shower and dress and return to work for another five or so hours. For the longest time I equated exercise with an impassioned kind of hunger. I so typically felt impassioned hunger just from reading a book or light housework, that I couldn't imagine what a five mile run would do to me. I have been known to work up a five-taco appetite just by strolling half a block. I want to teach my body and mind to sustain itself on a single carrot. Or at least an avocado (preferably, smashed up with lemon juice, powered chilis, and a lot of garlic).

The last time I attended Weight Watchers regularly was four years ago. At that time, I had spent four or five months losing upwards of 50 pounds after having Sabrina. So passionate was I about their program (and still am), I decided to work parttime for them. I did this until shortly before Ellie was born. Then, a few weeks before my due date, I quit, and didn't go back until now.

My weight loss has slowed in the last couple weeks (though not stopped) because: a) the kids are out of school (more distractions); b) I've been doing other things (because the kids are out of school); and c) since dropping a clothing size, I am feeling so much better about myself that my motivation has decreased.

Of course, last night, after Evan broke open his forehead (requiring 3 stitches, and eerily identical to the wound Sabrina sustained 2 1/2 years ago), I said "mailto:!@* it", and gave myself permission to drink an extra 16 fluid oz of wine, and at least a cup of hummus with tortilla chips. Yes, it was comfort eating, and I don't care. And though some things warrant a little comfort, the more I lose the easier it is to justify "exceptions".

The past couple days has been chock-full of exceptional moments (though only the last one REALLY pushed me over the edge). Yesterday, in addition to regular daily frustrations, Ellie peed in Darlene's bathroom floor (accident); Bruce broke a wine glass into the just-drained spaghetti noodles (accident); and Evan fell off the couch only to have his fall broken by his forehead striking the corner of the coffee table (accident). Today, I broke a glass plate. I don't know WHAT the deal is. I'm afraid to leave the house; I'm afraid to stay home. Jack and Sabrina, both of whom don't know how to swim, are at a birthday party at H2Oasis, an indoor waterpark. I sent water-wings with them and asked God for His protection ("a wing and a prayer", so to speak).

Regarding Evan's fall, we were supposed to wake him several times during the night to make sure he didn't have a concussion, which he didn't. He was so alert at those times, he would say things like, "Mom, put me back to bed", and later, "Mom, is it time to get up?" He speaks in full sentences now, but in a baby-voice, which confuses my ability to process him. It's also possible the blow may have turned him savant, which would explain this morning's picking up Eoin Colfer's "Artemis Fowl" for some light reading .

I DO want to start writing and blogging again. I just don't quite know how to switch gears back to doing it. It seems like my slivers of time are narrower and narrower, what with family demands, and camping on weekends.

Ah yes, family demands. That segues nicely into my next thread of thought.

With these precious years of my little ones quickly slipping away, and their bold, bright, exciting, autonomous future just around the bend, I am alternately grieving over the loss of my babies, and straining at the bit to move ahead. I want to self-publish. I want to go to graduate school. There is a rush of excited adrenaline at the thought of returning to school, and then a tearful ache when a moment later a young mother walks by with her newborn.

No one warned me about this stage of life; this crossroads. But when I feel almost overwhelmed with sadness that both my kids and I are getting older, I tell myself there is a high likelihood of eventually holding "my own" newborn again - the son or daughter of one of my children. And then I feel relief, because rather than dwell on what is no more, I eagerly look forward to what is to come. It is the same type of longing I imagine those more pious than myself must feel about one day getting to heaven.

Recently, I was at work and two older gentlemen came into the gallery to browse fine art prior to eating dinner. In the course of conversation, I mentioned having four young children. One of the men observed that I didn't look old enough to have one kid, much less four. I told him I certainly am, at age 36, and I did an internal jig of delight when he expressed (I think sincerely) surprise at my age.

After years of my mother nagging me to take care of my skin and body, now in my mid-thirties, I finally do. I spackle a different lotion or cream on every part of my body everyday. I sandpaper and scrape all those same parts regularly as well, eagerly trying to unearth new skin cells that haven't yet learned how to wrinkle and sag. I suddenly care a great deal more about weight loss, knowing that hair and make-up alone no longer disguise the aging process. Exercise is also becoming a more significant part of my life. In the same way I finally understand the proper application of skin and bodycare products, I am starting to understand how walking, running, and strengthening can fundamentally improve the quality of one's life. I have given up on plucking the gray, which is now coming in with vigor.

But, you know, despite a certain melancholy at saying good-bye to youth, I also feel relief. I feel a great deal less the need to prove myself, the way I once did. I kind of like my battle-scars; I'm a little proud of them. When I was younger and more attractive, few ever bothered to know the person inside me. I was often shuffled into an "airhead" box, and abandoned there. Being "cute" became a curse, and I sometimes think I "allowed" myself to put on weight as something to hide inside.

Anymore, I don't know anyone who thinks I'm an airhead (at least, not in the way they once did. I suspect that the airhead-label may be justified in-part by virtue of braincell-loss from birthing four kids). I guess I've proved my point. But it hasn't been enough. I want to be pretty (to myself) again.

So, I guess I've come full circle in this posting. Weight, to daily life, to aging, to self-care, to weight again. Time marches on, and so do we.


At 6:34 PM, Blogger Gateway School and Learning Center said...

Okay, even though I've checked your blog every few days or so, this June 6 one didn't appear until today. Strange. Anyway, want to go to my HS reunion in my stead? I'd say you're aging way better than I am. Can't wait to catch up. You leaving town this weekend? (duh)


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